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Pesky possums – what to do if you live with the party animals

If ever there were a party animal, the possum would own the night.

Pest or pal, the well-known Australian marsupial is renowned for making special guest appearance at parties, becoming stuck in your roof and even weeing on your dog.

In Canberra the most common type of possum is the Brush-Tail Possum, fondly nicknamed ‘Brushie’. They like social evenings on the deck, long walks along power lines and romantic dinners in your veggie patch.

We caught up with the friendly rangers at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, who party with possums regularly, to get their expert opinion on how to deal with pesky possums.

Like most party guests, possums like their food. If you feed them, avoid starchy foods like bread and chips as this can make them sick. Fruit and flowers are more in line with their natural diet.

Be conscious of your rubbish and ensure it is always well secured, this can help to avoid attracting possums.

Possums have a knack for getting themselves in tight places – chimney’s, under tiles in the roof or between walls. There are experts you can call to get a possum unstuck, however if you chose to try yourself it’s important to remember to wear gloves (welding gloves are ideal). Possums are very germy and any bite or scratch can quickly become infected.

There are few things more frustrating than going to pick that plum you have watched ripen, only to find a possum has beaten you to it. Here are some handy hints to help deter possums from helping themselves to your fruit trees and vegie patches:

  • If you have a dog you’re in luck. Dogs are fantastic at keeping possums away, but be aware, the cheeky possums like to retaliate by urinating on the dogs with their bright green, acidic wee.

  • Don’t throw away your laddered stockings – instead, stuff one or two moth balls down the legs and hang them around your veggie garden. The smell is unsavoury to possums.

  • Trim overhanging branches from your veggie patch. This also goes for keeping possums from your roof - the thud of a heavy possum landing on your roof can wake even the deepest sleeper!

There are plenty of useful resources with tips and advice on how to deal with possums, as well as who to call if they need rescuing.

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has some great advice on possum-proofing and nesting boxes.

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